MIKA KARHUThe Forgotten 2
Titled The Forgotten 2, my latest exhibition turns its focus to people whose fates go unspoken and whose lives remain unacknowledged by the powerful. It comprises a series of portraits that have sought to capture the presence of people who have been subjected to hostility and ill-treatment, people who have been forced into submission and of people who have simply and inexorably been forgotten. These are portraits of lives lost and suffering overlooked.
All of us are susceptible
to power in one of more of its many forms. Power is permeates everything, assuming
structural, tangible guises. The structural practices of power mould and shape
us. Structural power comprises the norms and conventions that inhabit our
cultural practices. Structural power finds its expression in law, in the
architecture of government and governance and in the knowledge that facilitates
our integration into whatever social circumstances we find ourselves in.
While structural power may move us all, the effect it has on us varies, determined by our socio-economic status, for example. For those who find themselves weakened and vulnerable in the face of society, power can be a violent and oppressive force. And yet power also has the capacity to teach us something, to create opportunities.
As an artist, I am fascinated by the repressive aspect of structural power, the emotional tensions it creates and its impact on human beings, and most particularly by why it is we never speak of it even though its effects and consequences are out there around us for all to see.
Although power is always exerted upon and experienced by the individual, it is by no means a private matter. These experiences link in to the complex web of interactions between us and all of our experiences share a certain something, a common denominator is there, even when our experiences seemingly fail to display an outward resemblance and might diverge, often significantly, in terms of the detail, too. All our experiences exist in a dynamic relationship between those doing the experiencing and some aspect of their external reality.
We are all bound
to a context; all of us are the product of the community around us. That is how
power in all its many iterations succeeds in touching us all, whether directly
or indirectly. Those who exercise power and those who have it exercised upon
them are everywhere and the relationship between them remains in permanent
flux. The social context within which we find ourselves exerts a deciding
influence over our aptitudes, our desires, our thoughts and our actions.
My solo exhibition argues that we would all do well to develop a better understanding of the divergent experiences generated by our highly complex world. Art can facilitate an exploration of how we can make society fairer and more just. Engaging with history, with the past, is just one way to do that.
Doctor of Arts, artist, researcher